Calling Phillip Part II – Finding Hope

29 04 2008

In my former career in radio, I was fortunate to rub shoulders with most of the artists who inhabited the burgeoning country music scene of the 90s.  Some were friendly and common as a dollar bill.  Others were stand-offish and uptight.  A couple were dumb as a bag of hammers.  There were those who lived in a bottle, and others who’d been on Willie’s bus, so to speak.  There were many who’d fit in just fine at any of our family events; these were the ones who disdained adulation and preferred slap-on-the-back friendliness.  Then there was that annoying little nasal toned twerp (who has since won at least one entertainer of the year award) who would only give you the time of day if you were an attractive female.

One truism I learned was…

click here to read the rest of this article at wherethefishhavenoname.com

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Calling Philip

25 04 2008

For those of you who are already immersed into church ministry of some sort, you’ve no doubt noticed that there are a mind boggling number of evangelism programs out there.  Books, seminars, flip charts, tracts…  my eyes glaze over just trying to take it all in.  It seems right to me that we don’t need another program.  We need something that those in the world of diet crazes have started to figure out.

The new mantra among diet gurus is that we don’t need a new diet plan, we need a new life plan.  Addressing the harmful and destructive things we do to our own bodies via food intake must be addressed at the lifestyle level.  And that makes sense to me.

To read this article and find out what in the world Philip has to do with this, click here and visit my blog,  www.wherethefishhavenoname.





The Best Frozen Pizza

24 04 2008

OK, so I am not wont to making consumer recommendations.  That being said, I have a consumer recommendation I want to make.

Frozen pizza is one of those weird food areas where you realize the topping are going to, generally, be of low quality, freshness isn’t even an option, and the ending quality is something ranging between aerosol cheesegino's east pizza spray and Spam.  But then we don’t eat frozen pizza for the pizza of it.  It’s more or less a convenience item that fills the gaps between real pizzas.  That being said, Barbara and I have occasionally happened upon a frozen pizza that’s a tab bit better than the norm.

Living in the arctic circle surrounding Chicago, one would wonder why we’d even bother to buy freezer fried pizza.  After all, with the abundance of some of the best pizza places in the world here, you’d think nothing that ever crossed the gate of the freezer door would cross the gape of our lips.  But that is a philosophical question I’ll leave for the mystics and theologians to sort out.  All I know is, occasionally we heat up one of those stiff discs.

But then we discovered it…

click here to eat this article up in all its delicious entirety at wherethefishhavenoname.com.





Where The Fish Have No Name Redux

11 04 2008

Welcome to my first fresh entry on my new location for “Where The Fish Have No Name”.  I started this as a place to simply let off some spiritual steam and creativity.  I never imagined the response it would bring.  Comments have come into me far beyond the blogs comment boards itself including phone calls and emails.  In recent weeks I’ve been blessed to log over a1,000 unique hits a day, which really blew me away.  And then it all crumbled off the side of the mountain.

Read this blog entry in its entirety here.





It’s a Hurt Called Love

3 04 2008

Ever have to shake something hard to get it to come loose?  Perhaps you have something unwanted on the bottom of your shoe, so you smack it hard against the pavement.   Or, you find that an unwanted sliver of cellophane has lovingly attached itself to your hand, and you shake vigorously to cause it to fall away.

I’ve learned that’s how it can also be with us when we give ourselves over to God’s hands.  We would love to stick with the status-quo, so God has to shake us hard to cause us to move.  Barbara and I had hoped to minister here at our present church for 10-15 years.  But God had other plans for us.  We could have sworn that it was His will that we stay here to see through all the visions and dreams we had for the work.  Sadly, financial calamity in a particularly economically depressed area has changed our reality.  I’m not sure how anyone can afford to live here in the Chicago region.  The winters are hard and the taxes are harder.  As gas prices sky-rocket, our days left to serve here are diminishing.

I’m perfectly sure that in my desire to stay beyond our short five year tenure I could have become quite comfortable.  I expect that we would have seen more and more of God’s blessings as we endeavored to serve faithfully.  After seeing our families systematically destroyed financially, it has fatally damaged our church’s already skin and bones budget.  So, we’ve been shaken.  Hard.  Buddy, I mean to tell you, my ears are ringing.  We have been shaken loose.  If it weren’t for the massive medical bills still hanging over our head, we would have found a way to stay.  But the earth has moved, the windows have rattled, and we’ve been shaken loose.

broken heartIt hurts deeply to have to say goodbye to co-workers in Christ who’ve become family to us.  We moved far from our families and God blessed us with…  family!  Christ calls the church His body.  We feel as though part of our body is being ripped from us.  We were made one with these wonderful people, now we’re forced to move on.

Why does God allow us to hurt so?  It’s because hurt is like a thermometer for something wonderful…  love.  The greater we love, the more it hurts to part.  And there’s never enough time anyway.  I learned that the hard way.  When my mother died of cancer, we had several months of warning.  Still, there was not enough time to say goodbye.  As I’ve counseled with grieving individuals who’ve lost family members suddenly, I’ve often heard them say, “I wish I could have had just one more moment with them.”  But there are never enough one-more-moments.  Love is like that.  It is a thick and warm blanket.  Moving away from those we love is like getting out of a warm bed on a cold night.  It just reminds us how comfortable the bed really is.

In a way it is a blessing to hurt this way.  It reminds us of how blessed we’ve been to be a part of this community of love.  And it makes me even more homesick for Heaven.  What a great homecoming that will be.  Love hurts.  Thankfully, love hurts.






The Make-Shift Christian

25 03 2008

We’ve lived in the shadow of Chicago for about 5 years now. Let me just say that this is one kerwhaloping of a windy area. They say that Lake Michigan has a lot to do with this. All I know is that on rare days when it isn’t windy, it feels like the whole world is standing still.

Today is an especially windy day. Walking across the open lot between my church and my house, I was nearly blown over. If I were wearing a wig, it would be plastered to a wall somewhere in Ohio by now. You might say, “Well Greg, that’s why they call it the windy city.” But actually, it’s not.

There are other major cities that are windier than Chicago. But this frozen tundra of a city became know as windy thanks to the extreme statements being made to woo the world’s fair here over a century ago. Perhaps much as is happening today with attempts to lure the Olympics, the spinners were in high gear telling great tales of how spectacular things were. We chicago world's fair ferris wheelnormally just attribute illusions of grandeur to Texans, but Chicagoans competed in their own right to win the great exposition. In fact, the stories were so massive, it was said that the tellers were quite windy. Hence, Chicago became known as the windy city.

The problem with weaving great tales is that you eventually have to lie down in the blanket you’ve created. And sometimes it’s itchy and scratchy.

So it is with so many “Christians”. Our outer confidence belies our inner pain. In trying to build ourselves up, we create make-shift structures that are extremely susceptible to the winds of life. Make-shift Christians aren’t much removed from non-believers who build their lives, as Christ once alluded, on sand. The only sure mooring for any of us is in a life built slowly, surely and steadily in fellowship with Jesus. Prayer and scripture reading aren’t just good ideas. They’re tools that create structures that are firm.

Our inclination is to build up and build high. Just look at our big cities. Just look at our monuments. It occurs to me that we are still building the Tower of Babel. Unlike the great sky-scrapers we build, we forget that height is also about depth.

A Christ-follower, on the other hand, digs deep down. We find our footing, good grounding, and build from there. Some will build high, some will simply be ranch-style structures. But these slowly, intentionally laid blocks are made to last for an eternity. Make-shift Christians may look impressive, but they’re quick to fall. Those who go deep into the Word, deep into a life of prayer, deep into worship and deep into the many other facets of spiritual formation find that our shingles may tear away, but the house stands firm.